Best Cairns Hotels | Where to stay close to the reef and rainforest
Our picks of the best Cairns and Tropical North Queensland accommodation in all the must-stay areas.
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If Cairns and Tropical North Queensland are your next escape then you can't look past these hotels. Chosen based on their proximity to popular attractions, prices and locations, we're confident you'll find your ideal stay.
The hard work has been done for you so all you have to do is put your feet up and enjoy the pristine waters and the endless sunny days that Cairns has to offer.
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Where to book a hotel in Cairns?
Where are the best places to stay in and around Cairns?
- Cairns CBD: For central stays near restaurants and cafes, close to the marina for day trips out to the reef, and close to pick-up points for coach tours to the Daintree.
- Palm Cove: For relaxed resorts by the beach where you can swim (seasonally with stinger nets).
- Trinity Beach: For quieter stays by the beach, slightly closer to Cairns CBD than Palm Cove.
- Cairns Airport: For easy access to the airport and hire cars. (Note, Cairns CBD is close to the airport and does have more accommodation options.)
- Fitzroy and Green Islands: For island escapes within easy reach of the Great Barrier Reef.
Our recommended hotels in Cairns
Best cheap accommodation in Cairns
Crystal clear waters and sunny days don't need to break the bank in Cairns. With an array of cheap hotels on offer, you can spend your money where it matters. You'll want to be close to the main Reef Fleet Terminal, which takes you to Green Island as well as Fitzroy Island. The Mad Monkey Backpackers Waterfront and the Cairns Waterfront Backpackers are both centrally located on the Esplanade, which happens to be about seven minutes away by foot.
For those who are up for some town exploration, then the Cairns Art Gallery and the Museum are within a couple minutes walking distance of the Hides Hotel.
Hides Hotel Cairns, Cairns
Mad Monkey Backpackers Waterfront
Cairns Waterfront Backpackers
Best 5-star hotels in Cairns
If your perfect holiday stay includes a bit of luxury, then these 5-star hotels are sure to tick your boxes. From jacuzzis and saunas to rooftop terraces and pillow menus, Cairns brings 5-star options to the coast. The Shangri-La Hotel, the Pullman Cairns International and The Hilton Cairns are all perfectly situated a few minutes away by foot from the Reef Fleet Terminal, which takes you to the pristine waters of Fitzroy Island and Green Island. Alongside immaculate views of Tropical North Queensland's horizons, you'll also be centrally located to the city centre where you can find the Cairns Aquarium, the ZOOM and Wildlife Dome, the night markets and Skydive Cairns within a half hour walk. The 5-star options don't stop there either, with the Pullman Reef Hotel Casino also providing uninterrupted waterfront views.
Shangri La Hotel, The Marina, Cairns
Pullman Cairns International
Best accommodation at Trinity Beach
Trinity Beach hosts an array of activities, from lazy days on the coastline to hiking through the hills. We recommend staying in the main city area where you'll find the Coral Sands Beachfront Resort, Amaroo at Trinity and the Blue Lagoon Resort. The Coral Sands Beachfront and Amaroo at Trinity are located right on Trinity Beach and the Blue Lagoon Resort surrounds the large pond, which is just five minutes down the road from the main beach.
For those of you after some time with Mother Nature, then the Earl Hill Summit Track is merely five minutes via car from the hotels. The track provides a great opportunity for hiking and is in close proximity to Trinity Park Foreshore. This is a great spot for young families, as the water is calm and shallow. There aren't many stays in close proximity to this part of Trinity Beach but we do recommend the Palm Whispers Bed and Breakfast, Marlin Cove Holiday Resort and Sea Change Beachfront Apartments, as they are all within a five-minute drive of the hiking track.
Coral Sands Beachfront Resort
Amaroo at Trinity
Blue Lagoon Resort Trinity Beach
Best accommodation at Palm Cove
The Mantra Amphora, Reef Retreat Palm Cove and Peppers Beach Club Spa are all ideally located on Palm Cove Beach. As the main attraction, you'll only be two minutes away from the water by foot. At the northern end of the beach there's the Palm Cove Jetty, which boasts views of the beautiful horizon. We highly recommend taking the short 10-minute walk to catch the sunrise or the sunset. For a day out amongst the treetops, you'll only be a 15-minute drive from the hotels to the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway.
Other accommodation that will have you close to the beach and moments from the main strip of restaurants on Williams Esplanade include the Melaleuca Resort, Paradise on the Beach Resort and the Marlin Waters Beachfront Apartments.
The Reef Retreat Palm Cove
Peppers Beach Club Spa
Alternate Cairns accommodation options
For those of you who are after more personalised accommodation, we suggest checking out Airbnb, Stayz and Homestay. These provide a home away from home feel, with most of them being lived-in family houses. Or, if you're looking to save a few extra dollars while you're away, these are usually cheaper than regular hotel chains.
Browse homes on Airbnb
Browse on Homestay
Compare homes on Stayz
Our Cairns accommodation reviews
Here are our reviews on where we've recently stayed in Cairns to help you make a better decision for your upcoming trip:
Cairns Central YHA from Finder Hotels
Reviewed by: Alex Keshen, Travel Publisher
If you're looking for a cheap place to base yourself in the city, the Cairns Central YHA was a great option. While it may have been quiet due to Covid-19 restrictions, it was a more relaxed stay than most hostels I've stayed at and the rate for a private room with an ensuite was hard to beat at less than $40 per night.
- Budget: Low
- Pros: Spotless rooms, friendly staff, near transport options, ensuite in private rooms
- Cons: Set back further from the waterfront than I'd like
- Our rating: 3/5
Frequently asked questions about Cairns hotels
Which sites let you book Cairns hotels with free cancellation?
Some sites only offer free cancellation on select hotels or at a slightly higher rate, so it's best to check the terms on your booking before confirming your stay. Most sites, like Wotif or Expedia, will clearly state whether a stay is non-refundable.
Which sites let you use a coupon code to book Cairns hotels?
Which sites let you book a Cairns hotel without a credit card?
Which Cairns hotels booking sites have rewards programs?
Book hotels on these sites to earn points on your stay that you can later redeem for discounts or complimentary nights.
- Wotif: Part of the same family, Wotif lets you access the same benefits as the Expedia Rewards program. You'll get access to lower rates and earn points, which can be used toward discounted stays in the future. Depending on how often you make bookings, you'll be able to get bigger discounts and earn more perks like breakfast.
- Agoda: PointsMAX lets you earn up to 6,000 points for your stay that you can put toward a preferred loyalty or frequent flyer program, including KrisFlyer and Velocity.
- Trip.com: Trip Coins is Trip.com's rewards program where you can earn $1 for every 100 Trip Coins. It's free to join the program. Membership tiers from Silver, Gold, Platinum and Diamond have different perks to enjoy.
- Hotels.com: Collect one stamp for every night's stay. Once you stay for 10 nights, you'll be able to redeem one free night up to the average value of your previous 10 nights.
- Expedia.com.au: Access lower rates as a member and earn Expedia points on bookings, which can be used toward discounted stays in the future. Different levels of membership get you access to deeper discounts and perks, such as free breakfasts.
- Marriott: The Marriott Bonvoy Benefits program lets you earn points towards free nights, access special member rates, get free Wi-Fi with your stay and check into your room via the mobile app. There are different status levels depending on how often you stay, starting with Silver Elite (10 nights per year).
Which hotels are near Cairns airport?
Although Cairns Airport doesn't have any on-site hotels, these stays are just a few minutes away by car.
- Lilybank Guest House Cairns
- Holiday Inn Cairns Harbourside
- Rydges Esplanade Resort Cairns
- Cairns Queenslander Hotel and Apartments
Which Rydes hotels are in Cairns?
Which accommodation options are located along the Cairns Esplanade?
On the Cairns Esplanade you'll find the following hotels:
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